The Blue Monday campaign has been condemned by Anxiety UK, a charity that that deals with anxiety and other mental health related issues, as a PR ‘stunt’ that belittles mental health issues.

The third Monday in January was given the tag of ‘Blue Monday’ in 2005 as part of a publicity campaign by a travel company supported by the findings of a university academic.

However, Anxiety UK claims this undermines the work of thousands of volunteers working with sufferers across the country and does nothing to reduce the stigma attached to such conditions.

The charity says it is a cheap and insensitive way of generating a few column inches of free publicity regardless of the accuracy or otherwise of their research.

Nicky Lidbetter, chief executive of Anxiety UK, said: “It is disappointing to see anxiety and mental health related issues trivialised in this manner.

“We know anecdotally at Anxiety UK that January can be a particularly difficult time of year for many anxiety sufferers dealing with the financial stress post-Christmas, the dark nights and often miserable winter weather in addition to a whole range of other factors that heighten their fears.

“However, each individual will be affected in different ways and present with their own unique symptoms that can be triggered by a variety of events all year round, not just in January.

“It also undermines the tremendous work done by so many charity volunteers and therapists, the generous donations of our supporters and the staff working hard to help and support those affected as this is far from a one day occurrence.”